CIOs' most likely job move is a sideways shift
CEOs don't seek advice from CIOs and expect them to leave
CIOs have a great opportunity to boss innovation in their organisation, but they’re not valued as strategic advisors by their CEOs, most of whom think they’ll be out of the door soon, according to analysts and IT leaders.
Gartner analyst Terick Chiu used a keynote at the CIO Executive Summit 2012 in Hong Kong on Wednesday to expand on that the classic problem of IT leaders failing to engage properly with the business.
Recent research from the analyst of over 200 CEOs globally found that although a sizeable proportion (39 per cent) said they planned to spend more on IT in 2012, only five per cent rated their CIO as a close strategic advisor.
CFOs came out top in that respect, with 60 per cent of respondents valuing their chief number cruncher as closest advisor, while the role of COO also scored highly (40 per cent).
When it comes to innovation, CIOs fared little better in the eyes of the CEO respondents. Only around five per cent said their IT chief was responsible for managing innovation in the organisation, with the largest number (30 per cent) plumping for CEO.
Yet there are opportunities in this area. Chiu explained that around half of the respondents said they would spend money on innovation but in many industries such projects lack focus.
“In financial services around 35 per cent have no structured approach – it tends to be very ad hoc,” he added. “This is encouraging. There is an opportunity for us as CIOs to do our job better – not just managing the technology but innovating too.”
A word of warning came from CIO Connect director Geoff McClelland, however, who cautioned that CIOs looking to make a name for themselves with flashy cloud projects may come a cropper if they don’t make sure it’s all in line with regulatory requirements.
“If you’re thinking of pushing the envelope in financial services, insurance, or even other industries like healthcare you need to talk to the regulator,” he said.
“If you have discussion and the regulator says ‘no’ then most of the top management will understand … In Singapore one big player had to back out of Salesforce.com because he didn't talk to the regulator.”
Yet, rather depressingly, it could be an uphill battle for many CIOs to become the business leaders they need to be in the eyes of the CEO.
Gartner asked the survey participants where they thought their CIO's future career would lead. Some 18 per cent said they could see them as a future business leader within the organisation, while around 40 per cent replied that they’d stay in the same industry, but at a different firm.
“We may be doing extremely well as technology people but as strategic business advisors the CEO doesn't come to us to talk business strategy,” said Chiu.
“When we talk cloud computing, mobile and Big Data, are we focusing just on the technology side or the potential business capabilities? As we move from a technology angle to a more business-oriented approach there are still some opportunities to raise our profile.” ®
Yes, I'm aware that that is not the correct usage of the term schizophrenic in this modern world, but everybody knows what's meant:
Maybe it would help if those precious CEOs themselves knew what the hell they actually expected a CIO to provide for a business.
You want a "business leader"? Isn't that YOUR job? Someone who understands the financial underpinnings? What's your CFO for then? As a result you end up with CIOs who understand *neither* business, nor financials - NOR IT (such as the one I worked for in a previous job, who still used IE6 a year ago, didn't understand virtualisation no matter how many times it was explained to him, insisted that it should be company policy to have 6 character passwords - those are just random flashbacks coming back to me).
So, which is it? How about - I know it's a ridiculous notion but give it a try - getting someone who understands technology and let them... work with me here!... manage the technology without which your shop would go under in a heartbeat nowadays. And not yet another MBA who has problems turning on his own laptop!
Normally don't post anonymously but in this case I need to CMA. :(
Why do you think facebook IPOed far too high? It's because the culture of the manglement track absolutely, categorically, and pathologically refuses to listen to the technical track.
I, for one, seriously hopes this continues ... Cleaning up after various CEO/CFO incompetent technical d
isastersecisions are helping to fund my "retirement", without dipping into my savings :-)
CEO not IT savvy
Exactly, Dazed: the reason CEOs don't see CIOs as strategic advisers may be that CEOs have insufficient knowledge of what IT does.
Because IT is essential to a lot of businesses, perhaps it's fare more important to get CEOs to learn more about IT than to get CIOs to learn more about business...
But the CEO can never be wrong, can he....
Re: isn't that your job
I think the problem is that the CIO talks about and delivers hygiene stuff - infrastructure, the desktop, the problems of implementing somebody else's ideas, virtualisation, etc. And when he does get some air time, it's all presented in dull technical terms, supported by all-too-often made up business cases.
But (like many of us) the board don't care about dull stuff. That's no different to finance - they don't care about receivable or payables, they just want the dull and complex stuff to work, and not be bothered themselves. They equally don't care much about HR - "Just get rid of the unwanted employees cleanly, write a few policies, and don't bother us Big People unless you've got a really important idea". The CIO's and IT departments however don't bring innovative ideas to the board themselves. Finance look at ways for helping the business deliver better cashflow, making bigger margins, work with the business units to convert a good idea into real money. Sales & Marketing look to make a splash, forever doing the "big I am" routine, but occasionally managing to land the new business that keeps us solvent. IT lurk on the fringes, and often make things happen, without really being in at the beginning and without being seen to innovate or add much value. An evil necessity, rather than a value creator for the business.
I'm sure some will argue that IT is all about innovation (and as a former techie I have sympathy with that), but let's face it, IT is rarely where the rest of the business starts when they have a good idea. I know in my company, that if I involve IT, I'll be immediately bogged down in exorbitant costs, procedural evaluations, the need to document in painful detail things that I simply want doing, that nobody will see through to the bright shiny vision that I have. By contrast, if I work with finance, they'll test my idea, and if it looks like it might be commercial they'll help me take it forward.
Some companies are different, but as a general rule IT departments are not visionary, not team players, not commercially minded. That's why users cobble their own Access tools, why isolated islands of data suddenly become mission critical assets, why people go round the IT department to get outside systems installed. Indeed, it's part of why these CEO's don't see their CIO as a strategic adviser. Looking at other news, GCHQ are trying to educate UK CEO's about the threat of hacking and IP theft. If the CIO was up to snuff he'd have got some board time two years or more ago, and have presented a non-technical view of the threats, risks and remedies, and GCHQ wouldn't need to do this.
I currently work in a cross business role. I have frequent and useful inputs from finance, and less frequent inputs from HR or marketing, but I can't recall a single time that anybody in our large IT department has come to me with an idea for how my business can work better (ignoring routine, siloed cost cutting that doesn't otherwise affect my business), and I've never had an IT colleague call me and say "Hi, this is Bob - just calling to see if there's anything emerging, or niggling ideas that we might help out with?"
CIO as businessman?
How many CIOs offer plans that decrease the number of in-house IT staff and outsource the work to a company able to meet SLAs with low risk? Yeah, not too many. Usually the CIO says that's way too expensive. But, in the long run, the CEO figures that's what will end up happening when a few key IT staff find other jobs. Maybe it's the job of the CIO to put IT in a sustainable place so he can work at becoming CTO. And this doesn't happen very often because IT people make bad business people. It seems only IT people don't know this.